Coming back from a running injury or injuries from car accidents, car wreck injuries, or any other kind can be very difficult. But you can make this process smoother and easier for yourself by giving yourself enough time to deal with it before jumping back to your routine from before the injury.
The first and very important thing to keep in mind, when you are getting back to running after an accident or injury is to be grateful and happy with small achievements. Every mile counts and it takes you closer to your goal of getting back to running.
Injuries often come as a bit of a reality check for the runners. The struggle of all the time spent in rehabilitation and cross-training is the perfect time to gain some perspective and understand what your body needs to fully get back to your life from before the accident. The last thing you want at this critical time is to push yourself too much and re-injury yourself or get a new injury in the process, which sets you further back from your days back to the track.
Let’s get to a few important tips that can help you ensure your comeback to running after an injury or accident is as smooth as possible.
Wait until you are ready and then maybe another day
Think of coming back to running after an accident or injury as checking the blind spot when you are driving. Often, it is not a big deal to quickly switch lanes but it is always better to be extra careful and safe because it really just takes one small mistake to turn your day into a big mess.
So, even you think you are ready to go back and you even find the motivation, still give yourself an additional day, just to be sure. Ideally, you should give yourself three days without any discomfort in your everyday life before getting to running.
Start small with brisk walks
The basic rule is that when something hurts to walk, you shouldn’t try to run on it. Besides, walking gives you a low-risk opportunity and provides low-level stress to your musculoskeletal system, which means walking would be a great way to transit to running as smoothly as possible.
While walking you can get really moving, as if you are trying to go the bathroom after having too much to drink.
Besides, you can up the level of intensity once you are able to do 30 to 60 minutes of painless walks for at least one to two days. Unnecessarily pushing yourself won’t quicken the process, hence it is better to take your time.
Start running slowly
The most important principle to remember is to go slowly. It is normal for your aerobic system and the muscle memory to want you to go right back to your old pace. But, jumping right into your old paces can be physiologically risky for you, even when you think it will be fun and stress-relieving.
When you are making your comeback to running, it is likely to take a higher amount of energy to go up to any given pace, as your musculoskeletal system is not used to the pounding. So, try to think of the first few rounds of running as a chance to get your body used to the impact forces and not as your routine training.
Ease back into higher frequency and intensity
Normally, the general principle goes that it takes two to three weeks for your body to adapt to the new training stimulus. So, every time you introduce a new routine or stimulus to your body, give yourself some time to adapt and absorb before you significantly increase the intensity.
Similarly, when you are coming from longer layoffs, it makes sense to start with easy jogging every other day before you increase the frequency in a couple of weeks’ time. Since, this is the time when your body is adapting to the consistent stress, keep your goal to run at least four to size times a week before you turn up the daily volume over 30 to 60 minutes.
When you are going back to running after a long break, you need to take all the notions and comparisons with the pre-injury runner in you. These comparisons will only set you up for frustration and disappointment, which is going to derail your comeback.
What you can do instead is to be happy with small achievements and track your progress. Eventually, you will fall back to your routine workouts and training from before the accident but you reach that point try to think of yourself as a completely clean slate.
Add hills to your routine to increase loading
Just as walking is your bridge to get from being injured to running, adding hills to your routine and process to make a strong comeback is your bridge to get to your training and workouts from before the accident. As you are working to develop your running economy and stamina, you will naturally pick up the pace with time.
If you want you can continue with this process or you can add some normal runs over hills before starting your concerted high-intensity workouts. The variance in loading patterns when running on hill and impact forces will help better prepare your body for the harder work and getting some additional aerobic development in the process.
Consult an expert for physical therapy
When you have been in an accident or are trying to recover from an injury to get back to your everyday life routine, your body needs additional support. As a runner, consulting an expert for physical therapy, massage therapy or chiropractic adjustment can help you with a better and quicker come back to your regular pace.
From expert car accident chiropractor, physical therapist, to registered massagist, these professionals can help you with a number of injuries including runner’s knee or patellofemoral syndrome, whiplash care, and Achilles tendinitis. Hence, when you are slowly trying to get back to your workout and training intensity from before the accident, make sure you give your body additional support to avoid causing re-injury and inflammation by overgoing your muscles.
Getting back to full training load
Always remember, you should get back to full training and workout load according to how you feel and it should not be based on a formula. Once you start running more frequently and you have been trying running over hills sometimes without any extra discomfort or pain, it means you are ready to ease back to your normal training routine. However, the comeback from this point should be very personal.
Every individual is different, how their body reacts is different, and every injury is different. You might be a quick healer and be ready to get to the full gear immediately but chances are your body needs a more linear progression into the high intensity routine. Just make sure you listen to how your body is reacting to the training and that should be the best guide for you.
There truly is no right way to this, if you think you need a couple of more days with the practice running and workouts then you should give yourself those days. There can thousands of variables that differ from individual to individual and it’s important to consider them. So, make sure to talk to an expert and give them your perspective and what your experience has been like, and above all trust what your brain and body tell you.
Making a strong comeback!
These steps and tips should help you to slowly make a comeback to your routine and training as a runner and ease your body and muscles to the workout intensity from before the injury. However, you must keep in mind that every individual is different and hence their journey will naturally, be different as well.
Besides, it is important to remember that as a runner, you will get injured and that’s okay. All your experiences and little things about your journey make you who you are. It creates a unique journey that’s truly yours. Running injuries and accidents and other life setbacks are part of the package at times, so learn to embrace them as much as you can wear your injures, life experiences, and your journey as the armor that sets you apart from everyone else.